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24 May 2007 : Column 1428W—continued

Foreign Companies: VAT

Bob Russell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the amount of money not paid each year to the Exchequer through the use by UK-based companies of overseas operations where value-added tax is not paid. [139176]

Mr. Timms: HMRC does not have the information required to make such an estimate.

Bob Russell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will take steps to require UK-based companies to pay value-added tax for transactions undertaken using locations outside the European Union; and if he will make a statement. [139177]

Mr. Timms: The Government have monitored closely exploitation of the relief by companies making VAT-free supplies from outside the EU, particularly from the Channel Islands. It notes the action already taken by the authorities there to counter such exploitation. In particular we welcome the commitment made by Jersey authorities, in decisions with the Government, to limit the activities of companies continuing to operate on the island, with the associated revenue loss to the Exchequer. The Government remain in discussion with the Guernsey
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authorities on this issue. It hopes that they will shortly be in a position to make a similar commitment. The Government will continue to keep the situation under close review.

Group of Seven

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what meetings he had during the last G7 Finance Ministers’ conference in Washington DC. [134572]

John Healey: The G7 Finance Ministers met from 14.30 till 22.00 on 13 April.

Insurance: Discrimination

Anne Main: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent assessment he has made of whether services offered by the travel insurance industry discriminate against older people. [138394]

Ed Balls: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 16 April 2007, Official Report, column 408W, to the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Drew).

The Government’s Discrimination Law Review are currently considering whether there is a case for prohibiting age discrimination in the provision of goods, facilities and services, including insurance. The Government expect to publish a Green Paper shortly.

Minimum Wage: Enforcement

Sarah Teather: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many cases his Department has recorded of employers being in breach of legislation on the national minimum wage; and how many of these cases resulted in a successful prosecution in each year since the coming into force of the relevant provisions. [138497]

Mr. Timms: The number of cases recorded where non-compliance has been identified are as follows:

Closed cases with arrears identified

















The National Minimum Wage Act 1998 contains a number of provisions empowering enforcement officers to take civil action against non-paying employers and HMRC use these in the first instance when agreement cannot be reached. Agreement is reached in over 95 per cent. of cases without recourse to these measures.

In May 2006 the joint policy on enforcement and prosecutions was agreed between DTI, HMRC and Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Service (RCPO). To date there have been no prosecutions but a number of cases are being investigated by HMRC.

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Pay: Nurses

Norman Lamb: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the saving to the Treasury resulting from phasing the nurses’ pay award in 2007; what percentage of the total money supply this saving represents; and what estimated reduction in inflation is predicted as a result of staging nurses’ pay in 2007. [135938]

Mr. Timms [holding answer 8 May 2007 ]: The Government aim to strike a balance between the need to pay at levels necessary to recruit, retain and motivate staff, while at the same time ensuring that pay increases do not increase inflationary pressures and are affordable within the overall public finances.

Wage pressures are one of the factors considered by the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England when setting interest rates to meet the inflation target.

Pensioners: Income Tax

Jeff Ennis: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many (a) pensioners and (b) pensioners over 80 years are paying income tax. [138393]

Ed Balls: The number of pensioners paying income tax in 2007-08 can be found in table 2.1 “Number of individual income taxpayers” on the HM Revenue and Customs website.

There are an estimated 830,000 pensioners over the age of 80 paying income tax in 2007-08.

The information is based on the Survey of Personal Incomes, of which 2004-05 is the latest available, and projected in line with Budget 2007 assumptions.

Revenue and Customs: Manpower

Mr. Anthony Wright: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what percentage of staff identified as pre-surplus have been re-assigned to (a) other HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) posts and (b) other Civil Service posts outside HMRC. [134308]

Dawn Primarolo: A total of 688 pre-surplus staff has been recorded centrally as having been re-assigned. This can be broken down as follows:


Successful in job applications


Voluntary re-deployment within HMRC


Compulsory re-deployment within HMRC


Moved to other Government Departments (voluntary)


Pre-surplus is the term used by HMRC to denote those individuals whose post or work is no longer being carried out in a particular location, no longer being done by that office or where such changes are planned in the future. This status is also used for offices and parts of the Department where appropriate.

As part of the efficiency savings identified under the Gershon and Lyons reviews HMRC is committed to reducing 25,000 posts by 2011 and pre-surplus is one of
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the main ways in which we are working with staff to identify posts and re-deploy staff either within the Department, to other Government Departments or to work outside the Civil Service.

There is a great deal of support available to staff who are in this position, including support workshops, dedicated teams to secure future posts, early retirement packages where appropriate, IT solutions etc.

Voucher Schemes: Day Care

Ms Buck: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps have been taken to increase employer participation in the childcare voucher scheme; and if he will make a statement. [138687]

Ed Balls: The tax exemptions we have introduced provide a significant incentive for employers to help their employees with the costs of childcare, whether in the form of childcare vouchers, workplace nurseries or directly contracted childcare.

HMRC provides comprehensive help and guidance to employers and parents on its website, which is regularly reviewed and updated. This can be found at HMRC is also about to publish a new leaflet for parents called "Paying for childcare - getting help from your employer", specifically aimed at explaining what employer-supported childcare is and how it works.

Vulture Funds

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what estimate he has made of the tax revenue collected from vulture funds registered within the UK in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement; [139041]

(2) how many vulture funds are registered within the UK; and if he will make a statement. [139042]

Ed Balls: HMRC does not have any data that would enable it to identify entities that might be acting as “vulture funds” and so does not hold data on their revenue and tax payments.

The UK is committed to tackling the actions of vulture funds. The Chancellor raised this issue with his G8 colleagues at the weekend. The G8 agreed to work together to identify measures to tackle this problem, based on the work of the Paris Club. Since then the Paris Club have confirmed their commitment to avoiding selling their claims on HIPC countries to other creditors who do not intend to provide debt relief under the HIPC initiative. In co-operation with the relevant international institutions, Paris Club creditors have agreed to intensify their work on this issue with a view to identify concrete measures to tackle this problem. See

Welfare Tax Credits

Mr. Harper: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many people in (a) England, (b) Gloucestershire and (c) Forest of Dean constituency were paid tax credits in each of the last five years. [138796]

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Mr. Timms: New tax credits were introduced in April 2003, and are currently in their fifth year of operation.

Estimates for the number of in-work families with tax credit awards by country, county, and constituency (based on final family circumstances and incomes for 2003-04 and 2004-05) are published in "Child and Working Tax Credits. Finalised Awards 2003-04 Geographical Analysis" and "Child and Working Tax Credits. Finalised Awards 2004-05 Geographical Analysis". These publications are available on the HMRC website at:

Figures for 2005-06 were published on Tuesday 22 May.

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, (1) what estimate he has made of the impact on poverty of a rate of tax credit take-up of 100 per cent; [139037]

(2) what estimate he has made of the potential impact of an increased claimant rate among those eligible for tax credits on poverty levels among this group. [139038]

Mr. Timms: Tax credits play a key role in making work pay and reducing poverty, and have helped to lift 600,000 children out of relative poverty since 1996-97. Latest statistics show that take-up of tax credits for families with children was 82 per cent. in 2004-05, rising to 97 per cent. for those on low incomes, significantly higher than for previous comparable systems of support. HMRC has in place a programme of activity further to raise take-up of tax credits amongst eligible families, which will contribute to the Government's objective of halving child poverty by 2010. No estimate has been made yet of the precise contribution that 100 per cent. take-up of tax credits would make to reducing poverty.

Welfare Tax Credits: Appeals

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many tax credit cases have been referred to the Adjudicator’s Office in the last 12 months; and how many of those (a) have had a successful outcome and (b) have resulted in a recommendation for compensation. [138571]

Mr. Timms: The information on the tax credit cases dealt with by the Adjudicator’s Office will be published in the Adjudicator’s annual report shortly.

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the cost was of tax credit cases being referred to the Adjudicator's Office in the last 12 months. [138572]

Mr. Timms: This information is not available.

Welfare Tax Credits: Overpayments

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 16 April 2007, Official Report, column 421W, on welfare tax credits: overpayments, how many notices of warning of legal proceedings if payment is not made were sent to individuals claiming tax credits in each month from April 2003 to March 2007. [138050]

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Mr. Timms: The notices were sent out by local offices. The information requested is not held centrally.

Work and Pensions

Child Support Agency

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether any debts owed to the Child Support Agency will be written off once it has been replaced by the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission. [136876]

Mr. Plaskitt: I refer the right hon. Member to sections 5.38 and 5.39 on page 79 in the child maintenance White Paper “A new system of child maintenance” (Cm 6979) and section 5.38 page 75 in “A new system of child maintenance—Summary of responses to the consultation” (Cm 7061).

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